St John's will be welcoming visitors on Sunday 10 September

St John's College Lodge

Oxford Open Doors is back for 2023, and St John's is looking forward to welcoming visitors on Sunday 10 September.

St John’s College was founded in 1555 and is situated in the heart of the city. One of the University of Oxford’s larger colleges, St John’s offers the visitor historical buildings in traditional quadrangles and award-winning modern architecture, all set within beautiful gardens.

We will be open from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm with an exciting mix of talks, self-guided tours – including a children’s treasure hunt – and exhibitions, along with refreshments and opportunities to explore the College grounds.

More information on what will be available at St John's for Oxford Open Doors this year is available below and on Eventbrite. Pre-booking for the special tours of the gardens and the pictures in Hall is advised via our Eventbrite site as space is limited.

The full programme for the day can also be downloaded here.

We look forward to seeing you !

Garden Quad Auditorium

12.00 Professor William Whyte, Tutorial Fellow in History: ‘The History of St John’s’

1.00 Dr Petra Hofmann, College Librarian; Dr Sian Witherden, Resource Description Librarian; Sophie Bacchus-Waterman, Special Collections Photographer: 'A look behind the scenes of St John's Library Digitization Project'

2.00 Susanna Heron, artist: 'Finding space for a drawing: Stone Drawing (St John's 2019) and other works'

3.00 Michael Riordan, College Archivist: ‘Jane Austen's family at St John's’

4.00 Dr Geoffrey Tyack, Architectural Historian: ‘The Architecture of St John’s, 1555–2023’

You do not need to pre-book tickets for these talks.

Garden Quad Reception Room

Laudian Vestments

A display of the College’s remarkable collection of late medieval liturgical vestments and embroidery.

St John’s masterplan

A display of the College’s future plans to improve its resilience, simplify services and reduce its carbon emissions.

Kendrew Barn


The fourteenth century was a period of cataclysmic change: pandemic, climate change, war, intense inflation. Many medieval people responded nostalgically, by expressing their longing for 'the good old days'. This small exhibition draws on Professor Hannah Skoda's British Academy-funded project to present some of these fourteenth-century nostalgias: ranging from grumpy comments about how much better people used to dress in the past, to very serious political weaponisation of nostalgia for times of greater fairness or less corruption.

The exhibition also provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our own nostalgias.

Canterbury Quad

Inspire: St John's outreach and access programme

A display about Inspire, St John's pioneering range of access and outreach programmes for schools.

College Hall

11.00 Tour of portraits in Hall

Find out about the people in the portraits in St John's Hall with Dr Georgy Kantor, Keeper of Pictures (up to 35 people)

St John's Gardens

11.00, 12.00 and 2.00 Specialist tours of the gardens

Learn about the history of St John’s extensive gardens through analysis of the designed landscape and its collection of trees. Join Michael and Beverley Lear (specialists in the conservation of plant collections in heritage parks and gardens) for a tour of the gardens to discover the wide range of tree species and learn about their research which peels back the layers of history through their combined study of the archives and practical ageing of trees based on understanding growth rates. Pre-booking advised – maximum 12 people per group.

St John's Chapel

2.00 Music in St John's

An introduction to music in St John’s Chapel with David Bannister, Choir Director, followed by a short demonstration of the organ created for St John’s by Bernard Aubertin in 2008 with some solo pieces.

Pre-booking for the special tours of the gardens and the pictures in Hall is advised via our Eventbrite site as space is limited.

We offer a selection of self-guided tours around College. There are tours of the quads and gardens and for children there is a Find the Lambs Treasure Hunt – with prizes!

The Kendrew Café will be open for snacks, cakes, coffee and cold drinks (payable by bank card only).